Custom Fish Bowl - The Tank The Forum Gave Me - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 132 (permalink) Old 09-19-2019, 12:59 PM Thread Starter
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Custom Fish Bowl - The Tank The Forum Gave Me

Hello Folks!

A new journal and a new tank! It's early days but I have fun making these posts so lets get started.

A month and a half ago I made this thread where I asked how to keep the spouse happy while having multiple tanks. I received a lot of good advice and some hilarious advice. The end result was my wife agreeing to a new tank but it was going to be a zero equipment tank and it couldn't look like an aquarium. Meaning it couldn't be a rectangle, it needed to be a fish bowl.

I began searching for a LARGE fish bowl. Something bigger then 10 gallons. I did a LOT of searching and ended up with only a few options. I once more asked the forum for help in this thread. DaveKS came through and found an amazing vase/vessel/fish bowl. But sadly the wife rejected it. I was left with no other option but to commission a hand blown vessel/fish bowl. And that is what I did. I contacted somewhere around 10 glass blowers within a 100 mile radius. Out of those ten, 7 either could not do it or did not respond to my request. Two of the 10 wanted more then 2000 dollars for the commission and one estimated a cost of 250-300 for the fish bowl. I went with this last one. Yesterday I was contacted by the artist and told to come pick it up.

I am actually not a fan of commissioned pieces from artists because I buy the thing before I get to see it and in my experience I am usually not completely happy with the end result. That was unfortunately the case here. My commission was for an oval piece but the artist was clearly aiming at making it perfectly symmetrical, and missed the mark. The result is a piece that is lopsided just enough to make it look like its not quite right without it being so far out of proportion to be obviously a design element. So, not great. But my wife is the real reason it was made and she likes the look after she sees it on a counter so /shrug here we go!!!

Here is the fish bowl with some bananas providing scale:



I just moved this past Saturday, so the place where its ultimately going is slightly blocked at the moment:



This is going to be a Walstad tank with no filter, no heater, no equipment whatsoever. So I began by selecting my dirt. I went with Nature's Care Organic Garden Soil. Here is what the bag looks like:



Here is the back of the bag:



I went with this one because it had reasonably low values for Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potash plus all the ingredients were from natural products as opposed to chemical fertilizers. I would have preferred something even lower in nutrients but it was not available to me.

Because I knew I had a lot of excess nutrients plus large bits of bark I began by sifting and soaking the soil.

I used a dip net as my sifter because that's what I had. this ended up being a very fortuitous choice as the sifting process was made very simple by shaking and massaging the net to get the soil to fall through. Here is the dip net sitting on top of the bucket:



Here is the sifted soil:



In order to jumpstart the nutrient leech I filled the bucket with water. A LOT of the contents of this soil floated. I mean probably 2/3rds or more. This is likely ground up wood/bark/leafs. I let it soak for a few hours and then pulled out everything still floating. Here is what that stuff looked like:



Today I am going to dump out all the water and all particulate that is still suspended in the bucket after 24 hours. I will decide if there is enough dirt left in my mud bucket to proceed or if I need to add more soil to build up a deep enough layer in my fish bowl. My plan is to ultimately fill and dump this bucket every day for at least a week. The plan being to let nutrients leach out into the water NOW before its part of an aquarium substrate.

The substrate itself will be made up of pool filter sand, Safe-t-sorb and dirt. I am planning to put down a thin layer of sand/safe-t-sorb first (mostly for aesthetic reasons), then the dirt, then cap with the sand/safe-t-sorb combo. I will be planting this quite heavily with submersed and emersed growth. I have not decided what the hardscape is going to be yet. I might go plants only, or hardscape might be limited to only wood. Still very undecided.

Light will be a desk lamp with a 10-20watt bulb. Not sure which one yet, ideally I will find a dimmable 20 watt led with 90+cri but that seems hard to find so I may have to settle for less watts or less cri.

Stocking will be shrimp, snails, and hopefully a 2 or 3 japanese rice fish. Assuming I can find the orange ones. They seem exceedingly difficult to locate.

That's all for now! I'll update as progress occurs.
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post #2 of 132 (permalink) Old 09-19-2019, 01:16 PM
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Great start for a journal!

i really like the idea of commissioning a glass blower to custom make a large fish bowel, that's something I've never heard of. I'm surprised you were able to find that many glass blowers within a hundred mile radius.

Keep the posts coming, this should be a fun journal!


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post #3 of 132 (permalink) Old 09-19-2019, 01:24 PM
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Are you a 9gager perhaps?
Only true 9gagers will know why I asked

Sent from my SM-G955W using Tapatalk
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post #4 of 132 (permalink) Old 09-19-2019, 01:44 PM Thread Starter
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I had never heard of a 9gagger and didn't understand the reference till I found out that bananas are apparently a thing? Anyway no, I just used a banana because I literally just moved in and most things are packed. I needed something to use for scale and my wife's giant cat wasn't giving me a true perspective.

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post #5 of 132 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 08:08 PM Thread Starter
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Small update:

I have purchased some plants and found some others that I will be using in this tank. Specifically I have some sagittaria subulata (the non-dwarf or giant variety), some rotala that was labeled as bossii by my local fish store but is redder then I thought bossii was supposed to get, and some hornwort I got from a local lake. I will also be getting some dwarf hair grass and red root floaters for sure, possibly some other plants.

I have also also cleared out the wall of empty boxes so I could get access to the window sill this tank will be sitting on. Here is where the tank will be located:



I still need to buy the lamp and the bulb that will be lighting this tank. This will be a bit of a negotiation since the wife must be pleased with the overall aesthetic. I would cheerfully use something like this. But I need final approval first. ;P

Anyway today I was finally able to get my hands on a bag of HTH Pool Filter sand. I have been looking for this stuff for a while now which is odd only because its not scarce. Months ago I went to my local pool supply store and bought a bag of Pool Filter sand and was surprised with how fine it is. Specifically this bag:



Its not terrible, but its also not great. Its what I am currently using in both my Spec V and my 40 gallon breeder quarantine tank. I thought of using it again for this tank but folks have said that HTH is the way to go and I am glad I held off. The second Ace Hardware store I went to had plenty in stock.

Here is a picture of the HTH on the left and the BRAND X (lighthouse) Pool Filter Sand on the right:



While the Lighthouse sand is much more uniform in size, that size is significantly smaller then much of the HTH sand. The HTH sand is also shade darker, so its slightly more tan and less white then the Lighthouse sand, though honestly they are pretty similar in color.

The substrate is going to be a mix of Safe-t-sorb and HTH pool filter sand. I went ahead and mixed some up and put it in the tank as a very thin layer on the bottom and sides. The goal here is to aesthetically block the appearance of the dirt.

Here are the bags of substrate:



And here is the substrate mixed and in the tank:



Speaking of dirt. For the last 2 weeks I have been changing the water in my bucket of mud more or less every day by about 80%. At this point the water clears up enough that I can see the bottom well before the next water change. I am pretty much done with water changes for the most part but I want to keep the dirt submersed for now since I likely have completely cycled media or soon will.

So what is holding me back from completing this build at this point?

Well.... mostly plants. I have a bunch of plants in my quarantine tank right now growing out. I wanted to grow them a bit and/or get them healthy looking before doing this build. I want to plant heavy right from the start on this one and my local fish store does not really grow plants properly. Meaning they don't mind sticking them in some water and putting a light over them, but its not necessarily the right light, and they certainly don't run co2. Thus my plants from them tend to be sad.

Plants from online have been a bit hit or miss with me. Sometimes I get really nice stuff, other times they are barely alive. I will likely order dwarf hair grass from online though because the stuff at my local fish store is always awful looking.

I also need to figure out hardscape. I still have not decided if this will be rock only, wood only, or a mix of both. I really like rocks, but this one lends itself to wood I think since I will almost certainly need to be leaning my hardscape up against the glass. Next update will likely be about the hardscape situation.
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post #6 of 132 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 08:54 PM
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So far so good!

Eventually I want to do a bowl arrangement as well. I have already marked a style that I found on Pinterest that I want to duplicate.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/553520610454111252/?nic=1

This looks like a design that would be perfect for the bathroom as a nightlight.


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post #7 of 132 (permalink) Old 10-05-2019, 02:12 AM Thread Starter
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Hard to be sure, but it looks like a wood and rock arrangement? It's certainly very lush, I am hopeful I will be able to make something similar.

Might be interesting to have the bowl run on reverse hours. So at night the light is on to light your way. If I were single I would totally have lots of these things up. And while the wife has many advantages, plentiful aquascapes just ain't one of them.


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post #8 of 132 (permalink) Old 10-08-2019, 07:29 PM Thread Starter
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Update:

Things are getting much closer to planting. If all goes well I should be planting at least the foreground plants tomorrow or the following day.

Here is where my bucket of mud is at now:



You can see pretty clearly all the way to the bottom. Not much to see of course, just mud, but there is essentially no noticeable particulate matter suspended in the water column with no cap. Pretty happy where that is right now.

I also took a trip to my local fish store and bought two pieces of "malaysian driftwood" whatever that really is. I have my doubts about it being actual driftwood but it doesn't matter much, it looks spiffy.

In other news I secured both my light bulb and my light fixture. The wife gave the ok on the light I previously posted. And after some deliberation I settled on this light bulb. Its significantly larger then I hoped it would be and thus sticks out of the fixture a bit. But other than that I am pretty happy with it. Using some rough estimates through a combination of the lumens to lux calculator and the lux to ppfd calculator. I am guessing this gives me roughly 15-20 par at substrate and about 45 par at the water's surface. I can further adjust this by raising or lowering the light a few inches.

Here is what the setup looks like right now:



And a closer look at the hardscape, little that there is at the moment:

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post #9 of 132 (permalink) Old 10-09-2019, 12:21 AM
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It really does look great.

Nice job selecting driftwood.
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post #10 of 132 (permalink) Old 10-09-2019, 11:58 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhatshocked View Post
It really does look great.

Nice job selecting driftwood.
Thank you! It was a challenge getting the wood because my local fish store has the wood in a big bin a few feet high and at least 5 feet across. I was wearing my 5 month old son at the time in a child carrier. So bending over to dig through this thing plus keeping him happy was its own adventure 😜

Eventually I found one of the pieces you see which set the tone, then it was just a matter of finding another to match/mirror.


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post #11 of 132 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 12:17 AM Thread Starter
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UPDATE:

Planting huzzah!

Well partly huzzah.

I previously had ordered 2 pots of dwarf hairgrass and 2 pots of micro sword and one anubias nana from H2O Plants. I picked H2O Plants because I had seen their youtube channel and they are in New Jersey whereas I am in Maryland. All the other places I could find for plants were on the west coast. So I hoped they would arrive quicker. They shipped USPS and it still took 3 days, so /shrug there is that.

Anyway they all arrived and more or less decent condition. In preparation for planting I poured out all the water from my bucket of mud and brought in the soggy soil that was left behind. I squeezed the water from a handful of dirt and put it into the tank. I did this until I ran out of soil. The effect was pretty much exactly what I hoped it would be. This is how it looked:



After this I was all ready to put my hardscape back when I realized I definitely should boil this wood gosh darn it. Otherwise I will be in the middle of tannin city, population? ME

This is an operation that was definitely best carried out while my wife was not around.



Thank you for your help tanins, your presence is no longer required:



Aaaaaand back in place:





The plants as they arrived (sorry for the terrible picture)



I broke them down to tiny little bits and then replanted:



There was after it was all said and done significantly less plant matter then I anticipated. I probably need another 5 pots to get to the density I was planning on. Or.... I can go dry start. Which is where I am at now. I am going to give dry start a go and see how it comes together.
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post #12 of 132 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 12:23 AM
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very nice!
Like the wood pieces.
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post #13 of 132 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 02:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Discusluv View Post
very nice!
Like the wood pieces.
I agree. Also that is a very nice lamp! Looking forward for more updates.
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post #14 of 132 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 03:17 PM
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Thank you for being so descriptive! I love it!
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post #15 of 132 (permalink) Old 10-11-2019, 02:25 AM Thread Starter
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Small Update:

My wife and I were both dissatisfied with the bulb I selected. It was too big, and the lit portion was easily visible anywhere in the room. So I replaced it with this bulb.

It came today and is clearly the superior option. The 40 degree angle of light means that you can't see the lit portion unless you get down on your knees next to the fish bowl. The intensity of the light is also quite nice and frankly looks brighter to my eyes then the old bulb. Whether its actually brighter to the plants would take a proper par meter I suspect.

Anyway this is how things appear today:



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